No doubt, Kurt Elling is the most amazing jazz singer around today, despite Andy Bey, Gregory Porter or Jose James and many others … but Kurt can not only interpret the standards like a only a few, but his way of vocalising soli from known songs and artists is second to none. In the concert at the Auditorium Nacional in Madrid on March 7th he proved again that he is in a class of its own: starting the show with an unaccompanied solo and then moving into Come Fly with me, only to go afterwards straight into the Marc Johnson song he wrote lyrics over the guitar soli of the original, Samurai Cowboy. This is followed by U2’s Where the streets have no name …..a weird mix in any book, but with Kurt Elling it all makes sense, as it is driven by his musical understanding of a song and his very personal interpretation and he is supported on this tour by a group of musicians who share that understanding: Gary Versace on piano and Hammond B3, John McLean on guitar, Clark Sommers on bass and Bryan Carter on drums.
He then goes into the music of his forthcoming album, Passion World, a collection of love songs from various countries, sung in English, German, Spanish, Polish …. And in Madrid obviously the Spanish one did get a great reception. Where Love Is, a song based on a poem by James Joyce, is a true gem in this collection, of which we only heard a part, but enough to look forward to the release of the album in May/June. And he was testing the waters with some completely new music – using a Jaco Pastorius song this time to write lyrics over the solo – it sounded already great, but will just get better the more this band will play it. A happy and enthusiastic audience was rewarded with 2 encores and left smiling – nothing compares to the art of Kurt Elling!